The Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics (Forum) fosters collaboration among 23 Federal agencies that produce and use statistics on children and families. The Forum annually updates all 41 key indicators of well-being for children on its website (https://www.childstats.gov/), depending on data availability. The Forum alternates publishing a detailed report of these 41 indicators, America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, with a summary version, America’s Children in Brief, which highlights selected indicators.
Key findings from the most recent America’s Children in Brief report:
Teen Substance Use
- In October–December 2020, about 46% of adolescents ages 12–17 who used illicit drugs in the past year perceived that they were using those substances “a little less or much less” than they did before the COVID-19 pandemic began. This is compared with 15% of adolescents ages 12–17 who perceived that they were using those substances “a little more or much more.”
- About 39% of adolescents ages 12–17 who drank alcohol in the past year perceived that they were drinking “a little less or much less” than they did before the COVID-19 pandemic began. This is compared with 15% of adolescents ages 12–17 who perceived that they were drinking “a little more or much more.”
Adolescent Depression & COVID-19
- In October–December 2020, almost 1 in 5 adolescents (18%) perceived that the COVID-19 pandemic negatively affected their mental health “quite a bit or a lot,” and an additional 51% perceived “a little or some” negative effect on their mental health.
- Adolescents ages 12–17 who had a past-year MDE or a past-year MDE with severe impairment were more likely than those without a past-year MDE to perceive that the COVID-19 pandemic negatively affected their mental health “quite a bit or a lot” (49% and 55%, respectively). In comparison, 13% of adolescents without a past-year MDE perceived the COVID-19 pandemic negatively affected their mental health “quite a bit or a lot.”
Child & Adolescent Behavioral Challenges
- In 2019, 6% of children ages 4–17 were reported by a parent to have “serious difficulties with emotions, concentration, behavior, or getting along with other people”
- In 2020, 17% of youth ages 12–17 reported a major depressive episode in the past year
- Among children ages 4–17 in 2019, parents were more likely to report serious emotional or behavioral difficulties for boys (7%) than for girls (4%). This pattern was reflected among children ages 4–7 (6% for boys and 2% for girls) and 11–14 (8% for boys and 4%for girls) but not among children ages 8–10 and 15–17 for which there was no statistically significant difference.
- In 2020, 16.1% of American children (ages 0-17) lived in poverty, and about the same percentage lived in households classified by the USDA as “food insecure”
- In 2018, 38% of households with children under 18 reported housing problems (cost burden, overcrowding, or physically inadequate housing)
- In 2019, 14.4% of all children ages 0–17 were in poverty, a 1.8 percentage point decrease from 2018. The poverty rate was higher for Black, non-Hispanic and Hispanic children than for White, non-Hispanic children. In 2019, some 8.3% of White, non-Hispanic children lived in poverty compared with 26.8% of Black, non-Hispanic children and 20.9% of Hispanic children.
Violence & Abuse
- In 2019, the rate at which youth were victims of serious violent crimes was 6 crimes per 1,000 youth ages 12–17. A total of 141,900 such crimes occurred in 2019.
- The rate of serious violent crimes involving youth victims was not significantly different from 2010 to 2019. However, the rate in 2019 was significantly lower than the rate in 2005 of 14 crimes per 1,000 youth.
- Male youth were more likely to be victims of a serious violent crime than female youth in 2019.
- The national rate of child maltreatment has ranged between 8.8 and 9.3 per 1,000 children since 2008 and was 8.9 in 2019.
- The risk of maltreatment is higher for younger children, particularly infants. In 2019, children under age 1 had a maltreatment rate of 25.7 per 1,000, which is more than twice the rate for any other age group.
- The maltreatment rate among children under age 1 increased from 20.1 per 1,000 to 26.7 per 1,000 between 2008 and 2018 before dropping to 25.7 in 2019.
- Neglect is by far the most common form of maltreatment, with three fourths of all maltreated children found to have been neglected.
- Eighteen percent of maltreated children were found to have been physically abused, 9% were sexually abused, and 6% were psychologically abused.
- Differences by age are particularly notable for sexual abuse, increasing from slightly more than 1% for those ages 0–3 to 21% for children ages 12–15 and 22% for ages 16–17.